Canadians found dead
Two Canadian men were found dead in their room at a Kowloon hotel, with unidentified white powder discovered near the bodies, police said yesterday. Cleaning staff at the Metropark Hotel found the pair, aged 29 and 45, just after 3pm on Saturday afternoon, with one of the deceased in the washroom and another lying on a bed, a police spokeswoman said. Neither man has been identified and their cause of death will not be confirmed until autopsies are performed, she said.
Opposition protest quashed
Police yesterday used tear gas and batons to break up a protest by opposition activists demanding President Mohammed Nasheed step down over the island nation’s worsening economic plight. Opposition spokesman Mohammed Shareef said dozens of people were injured at the early morning clashes that erupted after crowds gathered in the capital, Male, on Saturday. “The demonstration was crushed brutally,” Shareef said by telephone. “At least 30 of our supporters were arrested including a parliamentarian, and scores of women supporters.” Police spokesman Ahmed Shiyam said officers had used tear gas and batons in self--defence after coming under attack when trying to break up the protest, and that public property had been damaged.
‘Smooth’ thieves make haul
Police said yesterday they were investigating how “smooth criminals” walked off with more than 3 million ringgit (US$1 million) worth of diamond jewelry from a gem exhibition. District police chief Arjunaidi Mohamed said officers were probing the heist, which took place at the exhibition stand of famous local jeweler Habib at a suburban mall in Kuala Lampur on Friday night. Officials from the jewelry company said the robbers, three “foreign--looking men and a woman,” approached the stand at closing time when staff were busy packing the gems away for storage, according to the Star daily. “While some of the men distracted the staff by asking questions, their accomplice sneaked to the back and stole one bag filled with diamond-studded jewelry,” the official said.
Slave drivers jailed
A court has jailed a couple for forcing a group of mentally challenged people to work like slaves at a factory in Xinjiang, Xinhua news agency said in a report seen yesterday. The Tuokexun County court sentenced Li Xinglin (李興林) to four-and-a-half years in prison on Saturday on charges of violating the labor law, Xinhua said. His wife, Li Yunhua (李雲華), was given a two-year jail sentence suspended for three years. The two were fined 50,000 yuan (US$7,690) each. The Lis were convicted of forcing 18 mentally handicapped people to work long hours without pay at their factory, which makes construction materials, since 2006, Xinhua said. The defendants restricted the workers’ freedom and beat them.
Gunman kills mayor
A gunman has killed the mayor of a central city, as the victim and others bowed their heads in prayer before a public dance to celebrate an annual fiesta. President Benigno Aquino III said one other official was hit and wounded during the attack late on Saturday on Calbayog Mayor Reynaldo Uy in Samar Province’s Hinabangan Township. Aquino broke the news of the killing of Uy, his political ally, during a May Day speech before trade union leaders yesterday.
World Tai Chi day marked
It was World Tai Chi day on Saturday, and in old Havana’s San Francisco Plaza, more than 200 Cubans of all ages, dressed in white, green, blue, red, yellow and black, showed off their skill in the ancient martial art-turned exercise. There are more than 5,000 Tai Chi practitioners nationwide, as well as a Cuban School of Wushu, established in 1995 in located in Havana’s Chinatown district, said the school’s director, Roberto Vargas Li. There are about 200 older Cubans who have reached a high level of Tai Chi mastery, and often act as instructors, he said.
May Day celebrated
Pro-Kremlin parties and trade unions brought thousands of people onto the streets in May Day demonstrations yesterday. Crowds waving balloons and blue or red flags gathered in cities from the Pacific port of Vladivostok to Moscow in carefully choreographed rallies reminiscent of the Soviet era. Opposition parties of all hues have said they would hold their own rallies to protest against the policies of the Kremlin.
Tax transfers halted
Jerusalem has suspended tax transfers to the Palestinians in response to President Mahmoud Abbas’ bid to forge an alliance with rival Hamas Islamists opposed to peace talks, a newspaper said yesterday. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz canceled the latest routine handover of 300 million shekels (US$88 million) in customs and other levies collected on behalf of the Palestinians, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily said. A spokeswoman for Steinitz said she could not immediately confirm the Yedioth report, which said Israeli officials would also cancel talks with the Abbas administration aimed at updating the tax transfer mechanism which provides it with US$1 billion to US$1.4 billion annually.
Funeral trumped wedding
Almost 23 million of the nation’s TV viewers tuned in to watch live coverage of Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton on Friday despite the wedding taking place before dawn in much of the country. However, Nielsen ratings data released on Saturday show the TV viewing interest in the British royal nuptials in London was far below that of Diana, Princess of Wales’ funeral in 1997. Nielsen said 22.7 million of the nation’s viewers watched live coverage of the royal wedding on 11 networks — out of a population of about 310 million people. In comparison, 33.2 million watch Diana’s funeral in London in September 1997. The Nielsen figures did not cover the millions more who watched on smaller networks or online.
Police find hidden arsenal
Federal police said on Saturday they discovered a basement arsenal hidden behind the mirrors of a home gym that included three anti-aircraft guns, dozens of grenades, a grenade launcher, AK-47s and other high-powered weapons. The neatly ordered stockpile found in an upscale neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, also contained several makes of machine guns, rifles, a shotgun and more than 26,000 ammunition cartridges, according to Raul Avila Ibarra, the federal police commissioner in charge of the city. Police say they discovered the weapons on Friday while searching a house near the US border. Avila said the police acted on an anonymous tip that there were kidnapping victims in the house, but no one was found.